Bass Fishing Tennessee

Bass Fishing Tennessee: Top 5 Lakes to Target for a Weekend Trip

Do you ever get tired of fishing the same old places? I know most anybody who has ever fished has surely gotten a little tired of fishing the same old lakes, with the same old lures, fishing the same tried and true places that continue to produce even after 20 years. Maybe it’s time to explore a new lake when bass fishing Tennessee.

As a die-hard tournament fisherman, there is nothing more exciting and challenging than breaking down a new body water.

If you think that could be for you, look no further than the beautiful state of Tennessee. Tennessee has a diversity of fisheries from the famed waters of the Tennessee River chock-full of grass, docks, and wood to the many highland reservoirs slam full of rock and clay banks. Tennessee offers world-class largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass fishing. Here is a list of the top five lakes in the state of Tennessee that any serious bass fisherman needs to take a trip to this coming season!

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Bass Fishing Tennessee: Lake Chickamauga

Lake Chickamauga is already one of the most popular lakes in the country. It was recently ranked the 2nd best lake in the world by Bassmaster. Chickamauga has a surface area of 36,240 acres of fishable water located on the famed Tennessee River. The lake is very diverse allowing an angler to fish however they want. You can find plentiful vegetation like hydrilla, milfoil, and eelgrass. There is also loads of shallow wood cover, and docks. The lake is very popular for “ledge fisherman” as well, offering endless ledges for anglers to search for that next big bite.

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Chickamauga is absolutely slammed full of fish in the 2-5-pound class fish. Fish over 10-pounds are caught fairly regularly in the past few years. Just recently, a fish weighing 14.20-pounds was caught. Most local tournaments take well over 20-pounds to win. On three different occasions during the 2018 season, it took over 40-pounds to win a one-day local tournament. Whether you’re a tournament fisherman or just a bank fisherman, Lake Chickamauga needs to be at the top of your must-visit list when bass fishing Tennessee.

Bass Fishing Tennessee: Kentucky Lake

Kentucky Lake is arguably the most famous lake on the Tennessee River chain. It is massive, covering 160,309 acres of fishable water. Kentucky Lake is widely known for its vast amounts of ledges and bars.

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At least that’s what I think of when I hear about Kentucky Lake… deep cranking ledges!

It’s a ledge fisherman’s dream. However, Kentucky Lake is also famous for its vast number of shallow bushes and “yellow flowers” in the water during the spring.

Kentucky Lake has been in the news a lot recently due to the invasion of Asian Carp. While the lake has certainly taken a step back from what it once was, it is still alive and well.

A recent FLW Tour event that took place in May of 2018 took 101-pounds and 9-ounces to win over four days. That’s a testament that Kentucky Lake still has giant bass and is still deserving of a spot in the top five fisheries for bass fishing Tennessee.

Bass Fishing Tennessee: Parksville Lake

Parksville Lake is a small lake that flies under the radar of most bass fisherman in the state. It’s a very small body of water hosting only 1,930 acres of fishable water. Located in Benton, Tennessee, it’s formed by the crystal clear waters of the Ocoee River.  

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Parksville Lake is what I would consider a diamond in the rough. It’s arguably Tennessee’s premier spotted bass fishery. The lake is absolutely chock full of spotted bass. The lake was once featured on Kim Stricker’s “Hook N’ Look” TV show. The Tennessee state record spotted bass came from this lake weighing in at 7-pounds even back in March of 2014.

An angler can expect to find the lake full of wood cover along the bank and long sloping points. However, the lake does offer one interesting challenge.

Blueback Herring.

Herring make the fishery unpredictable from day to day. Anglers can expect to find a healthy population of spotted bass chasing these schools along with some healthy largemouth. Jerkbaits, drop shots, shaky heads, and small swimbaits are some of the more productive lures.

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Bass Fishing Tennessee: Dale Hollow Reservoir

Dale Hollow is no secret to any serious bass fisherman. Covering 27,700 acres, the lake is the premier smallmouth fishery in the state of Tennessee.

It’s arguably the best lake in the country for trophy smallmouth. In fact, the three biggest smallmouth ever weighed-in have come from Dale Hollow. The world record was caught here in July of 1955 weighing in at 11-pounds and 15-ounces. The second biggest weighing in at 10-pounds and 8-ounces.

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Any serious bass angler needs to visit this beautiful fishery.

The lake certainly doesn’t get the national attention it once did, but the nostalgia you feel when visiting is something every fisherman needs to experience. If you’re going to be bass fishing Tennessee, this is a must-stop kind of location.

Bass Fishing Tennessee: Center Hill Lake

Much like many lakes in the state of Tennessee, Center Hill is mostly overlooked by many serious anglers visiting the state. However, Center Hill is a premier location for all three major species of Black Bass. The largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass.

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Center Hill gives any angler an equal opportunity for a quality fish of any species.

The lake covers 18,220 acres. The lake would be considered a highland reservoir and is full of rock-based shoreline and ledges. However, the lake also boasts plenty of wood cover as well. Center Hill allows an angler to be diverse and fish how he or she wants given the time of year.

If you’re a serious angler or a not so serious angler, give these five lakes in the beautiful state of Tennessee a try. These lakes all offer other opportunities outside of fishing from hiking to rafting, to camping. Bring the family and enjoy a trip bass fishing Tennessee that you won’t soon forget!

This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert

Become an ANGLR Expert and apply here.

Jacob Foutz


I am a collegiate angler from Bryan College. I am a 2017 Bassmaster Collegiate National Champion as well as the 2017 Bassmaster College Classic Bracket Champion. I'm also a 2018 Bassmaster Classic Qualifier.

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